Been there, done that.

After six years of grad school, there are a few things I've picked up from personal experience and a whole lot of time talking with other female grad students (AKA procrastinating). I've always wished there had been some kind of handbook about how to handle the whole world of graduate school, so I figured I'd start a friendly place to discuss what it's like to be female in grad school, and maybe pass on some wisdom too!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

So What Are You Going To Do With That? Teach?

I have seriously lost count of the times I've been asked this question, and every time it makes me want to tell the asker to go find a cliff. Because, actually, yes, I do intend on teaching. I love being in the classroom, and I try to be a good professor. But that's not the only reason I study what I do, and it's certainly not the only reason why I'm in grad school. Still, whenever I explain my research to people, nine times out of ten I'll be asked what the heck I plan on doing with my diploma. And the added little barb that I'll "only" ever be able to teach about it kind of stings. (Does anyone have a good response to this? I'd love to hear some great comebacks for this question--I know I'm not the only one who has gotten it!)

But this question brings up two rather annoying points about the general view of grad school--something that I didn't really realize before I got into higher education and wish I'd thought about some. One is that most people view research rather poorly. Kind of a 'duh' comment, but not something I like to think about when I look at my own research. When it doesn't have a direct correlation with some awesome outcome that is obviously going to "make the world a better place" (often with the undercurrent of making someone a lot of money) people don't view it as important. Not that my research is science for science's sake, but most people don't understand that, or even want to understand that.

Second, and more importantly, is that people view teaching as a last-resort option or career. Anyone who would *want* to get up in front of 400 students and discuss evolution, Shakespeare, or the Krebs Cycle must be nuts. Um, hello? Why is this? I honestly don't understand. Teaching is so vital to our society and way of life that the fact that it is undervalued and viewed pessimistically really ticks me off. Wanting to teach may not make me a whole lot of money, but it certainly is an awesome career choice. (Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.)

Anyhow, thinking about this lovely little barb, and how I've tried to deflect it all these years, has made me start thinking about the other things people say and do to belittle grad school. Please, please chime in with more if you've got them!

So, things I've been told about choosing grad school:
-So, couldn't find a real job, could ya?
-What, you wanna be Einstein? (Okay, not asked of me, but someone else I know...)
-Why would you want to do that?
-You must really like to torture yourself.
-Do you like being poor?

Anyone got some good ones to add to the list??

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